Press freedom in Gambia!

Apr 22, 2020, 1:25 PM

Freedom of expression is a fundamental pillar in any vibrant democracy.

Thus, the ability to be well informed is the foundation of a healthy and promising democracy. And a strong and independent press is necessary to enable an engaged citizenry to make decision for the common good.

It is reported in today’s edition of The Point that The Gambia has made significant progress moving 5 places forward in the latest World Press Index, which re-groups 180 countries in the world.

 Last year, The Gambia moved from its 92nd position to 87th which is also 30.62. Despite this latest ranking, Gambia journalists still face challenges in their daily work places.

We all know that violations of freedom of expression rights continue to be a major challenge to participatory and accountable governance not only in The Gambia but in the region as whole. In many countries in the region, critical media and dissenting voices are not tolerated and are often crushed in the most brutal ways.

Suffice it to state that journalists in The Gambia during the past 22 years dictatorship rule of Yahya Jammeh have suffered a great deal. They faced all types of ill-treatment from harassment, imprisonment to even death. What is even more annoying is the fact that the laws that the former regime used to make it easy to imprison journalists are still in the books. This among others, are all the more reason why journalists are amplifying the call to wipe out these draconian media laws.

Unless and until these bad media laws are eliminated in our laws books, the wider notion of Gambia attaining a vibrant democracy would be a far-fetched dream.

These laws don’t only make the work of journalists even more difficult, they also stifle freedom of expression which is a threat to any thriving democracy.

We also call on government to revise payment of its subscription and advertisements dues to newspapers, because late payment of newspaper subscription and advertisements  do not only hamper production, but also delay payment of salaries for media workers.

More importantly, the media should be seen as a fourth estate and as such government should create an enabling environment to make their work even safer.

“A free press can, of course, be good or bad, but, most certainly without freedom, the press will never be anything but bad.”

Albert Camus